Secretary-General's press encounter after meeting Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende (unofficial transcript)
The Hague, Netherlands, 1 February 2007SG: Thank you Mr. Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to visit the Netherlands very early in my tenure. The Netherlands has been a strong supporter and an active participant of the United Nations and thus the United Nations and the Netherlands have been maintaining a very strong partnership. I am very much happy with that and I expressed my appreciation to the Prime Minister and her Majesty the Queen [Beatrix] on this matter.
The Netherlands has been a leading champion in keeping peace and prosperity around the world, particularly in financial contributions to the development strategy. As the Prime Minister said, you are the fifth largest contributor and in terms of percentage, you are the number three largest financial contributor. I hope that the Netherlands Government will continue to participate actively and show the lead to other members of the international community in that.
I had very good meetings with the Judges and Prosecutors of the ICJ, ICTY and ICC, and I have also appreciated their important contributions for the rule of law principles and contributions to peace and security. We have discussed, as the Prime Minister said, a wide range of issues - political issues around the world, development issues and reform of the United Nations. I am very much assured by the Prime Minister and his cabinet members of a continued strong support for the United Nations activities, and I will continue to, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, fully cooperate with you and with your Government. And with this brief remark, I will be happy to answer your questions. Thank you.
SG: I have expressed my deep appreciation for the Dutch Government's active and strong participation and contribution for peace and prosperity and security in Afghanistan. You are contributing a significant number - around 2,000 troops out of 18,500. This is very significant, and we hope that such a contribution will help Afghanistan's Government and people to first of all stabilize their political, social and economic situations and build upon their democratic institutions. I appreciate that very much, and I told the Prime Minister that the United Nations will always support such a role and we will also see increased presence and cooperation with, and in, Afghanistan.
Q: Mr. Ban, in Uganda some people say that the peace process is being hindered by the indictment of the International Criminal Court. Do you think that these indictments should still stand even if they are hindering the peace process?
SG: I have met in Addis Ababa the President of Uganda, and when I met the Judges and Prosecutor of ICC, we briefly touched upon this issue. Of course, this one will have to be dealt with by the ICC and I will also closely coordinate, as Secretary-General, of the UN whatever I can do to resolve all these issues. I have my Special Representative dealing with Northern Ugandan issues, and I will be involved in these issues. At this time this is a prerogative of the ICC matters, but the United Nations and the ICC maintain a very close cooperation in this matter. At this time, I can't tell you much.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, a follow-up question on what has been said before on Afghanistan. Are you aware that there are calls in the Dutch Parliament for an increased presence of the United Nations in the south of Afghanistan for example by the opening of United Nations offices in the area where Dutch troops are active? Have you discussed this matter with the Foreign Minister and could you give him any assurances on this matter?
SG: I am considering increasing the UNAMA office in southern Afghanistan. I hope that this will also help the very important contribution done by ISAF members, including the Dutch Government, in close coordination with the United Nations.
Q: There has been a huge debate about the reform of the Security Council, especially around the last UN Summit in 2005. Do you plan to give this reform of the Security Council urgency in your term as Secretary-General?
SG: This is by far the most important and most sensitive reform agenda in terms of institutional reform of the United Nations system. Member States were engaged in extensive in-depth consultation on this matter but, unfortunately, they were not able to agree on any single, or at least a possible form of consensus formula. I agree with the idea of expansion of the Security Council considering the dramatic changes which have taken place during the last six decades and this expansion or reform of the Security Council should be made in the most democratic and representative and transparent manner. As the Secretary-General, I will try to facilitate the consultation among the Member States. It is, after all, in the hands of the Member States to decide what kind of reform the Member States would like to have in the Security Council.
Off-the-Cuff on 1 February 2007